“Gentlemen, please! I did not bring you two together to reignite old grudges.” Grimrok gave them both a stern look and then allowed his smile to return. “Please, Mr. Harris, won’t you take a seat and we’ll get down to it.”

Zak reluctantly took a seat in one of the two chairs positioned in front of Grimrok’s desk. Vennhim remained standing next to the Dwarf, his hands now stuffed in his pants pockets in exaggerated casualness and an irritating grin smeared across his face.

“First of all, Mr. Harris, I’d like to thank you for coming out in this atrocious weather.” Grimrok sat back in his chair and quickly glanced up at Vennhim before locking his attention back upon Zak. “The reason I asked you here today, Mr. Harris, is...we have a situation. And I believe you are the best solution to correct it.”

Zak didn’t reply. He sat with his hands folded on his lap and waited for the rest.

“I need you to find something for me,” Grimrok continued. “Something very valuable and very secret. Some technology was taken from this building three nights ago. Whoever took it slipped through our security like water through a tea bag! Mind you, our security is second to none and that includes the Aragne government. So this was no small task they accomplished!”

“If somebody swiped top secret military technology, you need ASID, not me.”

“Strictly speaking, this isn’t military,” Grimrok said. “Not quite yet, anyway.”

“Not yet?” Zak smirked. “That sounds close enough. I take it the military is already interested?”

“The military is aware of it,” Grimrok conceded. “And yes, they are interested. But it’s not officially a part of any military program yet. There are certain issues that need to be addressed before it can go to the military. You need to help me out on this, Mr. Harris. I’m in a tight spot here. If news of this theft gets out... Well, you can well imagine what that would do to our defense contracts. The military does not like it when their vendors allow things that are supposed to be kept secret to go missing!”

“Why me when you already have Vennhim?” Zak asked. His instinct was telling him he didn’t want any part of this. “I specialize in corporate security now. Before the fact, not after the deed has been done. I don’t do cloak and dagger anymore.”

“Dorjan has other responsibilities,” Grimrok said. He watched Zak’s reaction and correctly deduced that he wasn’t buying it. “Okay honestly, Dorjan and the boys spent the last three days looking for clues and came up empty. And quite frankly, I would just as soon have someone who wasn’t associated with Grimrok Corporation conduct the investigation. This all needs to stay as far away from my door step as possible. An acquaintance of mine suggested you.”

“You want me to investigate a crime, but not let anyone know what I’m investigating?” Zak laughed at the absurdity of it. “That’s going to make it pretty difficult to find anything out.”

“I know it is a difficult task to ask,” Grimrok replied evenly. “But I am impressed with your qualifications, although there are some aspects of your career that is quite puzzling. You began training with the Te’n Kha when you were quite young. That is tradition among the Elves, is it not, to begin training as a warrior at an early age? Your father insisted upon it, I would guess?” Grimrok paused only briefly for a response from Zak. When he didn’t get one his leathery face wrinkled further with annoyance. “Of course, not all Elves are accepted to train with the elite forces, the Te’n Kha. That is quite an honor. All those years training and you simply walked away. Why would you do such a thing?”

Again Zak did not respond, and so Grimrok continued, “You then enlisted in Aragne Special Forces. Remained there fourteen years and rose to the rank of captain. Four medals of Honor during the war in Kurr Tak against the Orkensha. Then you were recruited by the Aragne Special Intelligence Department and served as a field agent for another fifteen years.  And then again, you just suddenly walked away from the ASID just as you did from the Te’n Kha.”

Zak portrayed indifference towards the review of his career. If Grimrok was waiting for an explanation of why he did what he’d done, the Dwarf would have a very long wait. Zak rarely spoke to anyone concerning his personal life and the reasons for his past actions were his own. Those parts of his service that was not classified, Grimrok was welcome to.